Take your photography to the next level and beyond...

  • NEWS

Why not join for free today?

Join for Free

Your total photography experience starts here

Buy new or used lenses?

Tim_Clark 4 1 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 2:46PM
Is it too risky to buy lenses second hand? I'd be interested to hear what people think.
Those of you who do buy used lenses, what do you look out for to reduce the risk?
If we get enough responses, I will put together a list of 'what to look out for when buying used lenses'.

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 2:54PM
I buy s/h - the epz classifieds are a fairly safe bet.
I've also bought from ebay on 2 occasions, using the sellers feedback rating as a guide to how genuine they are, with no problems when the good are received.
I think the shops selling s/h photographic equipment are also good, but prices are on the high side for s/h - still worth a look though.
Peter_West 6 244 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 2:58PM
Hi I bought a used Canon 100-400 L Lense from MPB not had a problem with them, i know a few people bought used items and all been pleased with there service
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 5:19PM
I've bought new and used. The 17-40 L is a lens I bought on eBay and its my main lens - being used on most of my landscape work. As ever with eBay checking the feedback on previous items sold, and seller ratings can prove useful. I have a couple of sigma lenses I bought used through LCE. This gave the opportunity to see what I was buying - looking at the quality of the glass: scratches, and fading or rubbing to the lens coatings through over cleaning, dust to the interior and signs of fungus. The other beauty of buying fro a trader is the opportunity to try the lens on your camera - checking it works and the focal length is that which you want in real terms rather than numbers. Still - there is a risk - the AF failed on my Sigma 50mm macro within a few uses (albeit it was used infrequently).
Gundog 5 629 Scotland
16 Jul 2013 5:19PM
Most of my lenses have been bought secondhand, unseen, on eBay. I know that some folk aren't happy to take the risk but, in fact, the risk is negligible and the savings can be enormous.

Of my Nikkor "Holy Trinity" of the f/2.8 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm, only the latter was bought new (because I wanted the VRii version that was newly released when I bought it). By buying the other two on eBay I saved over £800. My Nikkor 600mm f/4 AIS could not be bought new nowadays anyway, but I chose to spend a few hundred ££s on a secondhand non-AF rather than over £6000 on the latest version. Other lenses I have bought secondhand on eBay include Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 105mm f/2.8 and a Sigma 150-500mm and Sigma 8mm fisheye.

Really the only thing to watch out for is that the seller has decent feedback score, is located in UK and describes lenses as "mint" or "unblemished". That way if there was any flaw, you could get your money back without any hassle. Having said that, I have never had to - every lens I have bought on eBay has been perfect in every respect.
hobbo Plus
7 1.2k 2 England
16 Jul 2013 6:22PM
The advice above is as sound as it can be......I have purchased many excellent lenses via eBay.......the one that proved to be a bit dodgy was returned and my money refunded instantly.......look for long eBay membership length, lots of positive feedback and more than excellent item description.

llareggub 7 825 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 6:41PM
I have never purchased a new lens other than the dual kit lenses that came with my first camera, every other lens has come used from private sellers on eBay... Naturally you need to take sensible precautions and ask questions to satisfy curiosities, but I have never had a bad purchase!
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
16 Jul 2013 7:21PM
At the prices of quality lenses, I like to save as much as I can within reason. I shop first at a couple of ebay stores that offer a warranty on their used equipment, and they also sell refurbished kit, which I have had great results with. If I don't find what I want there, I take the same route as described above. Just remember, no seller wants to lose their excellent rating by selling dodgy goods.
LenShepherd 10 3.6k United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 9:03PM
Sites like MPB and Ffordes give a 6 month warranty, 14 day return if not satisfied and accept credit cards. They charge a bit more than cash but take much of the risk out of buying second hand.
I recently got the latest Nikon TC20e III absolutely mint and boxed for 30% off the cheapest street price I could find from Ffordes.
779HOB 6 1.2k United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 9:08PM
I bought a Nikon 105mm second-hand from a small camera shop. I think people tend to look after lenses better than bodies so I don't really see a problem.
tpfkapm Plus
7 261 United Kingdom
16 Jul 2013 9:53PM
if i am selling i recommend buying second hand

if i am buying i think new

annettep38 Plus
6 218 40 Costa Rica
16 Jul 2013 11:38PM
The only problems I ever had were with lenses which I bought NEW, a Tamron 180mm Macro with a lousy aperture mechanism and a very soft sigma 170- 500.
Bought a fairly expensive lens second hand in Canada by mail order... Seller was very good with packaging and declaration.. Got away with wasting 130 euro on our beloved supreme leader's budget. Not like some better known shop who was not so lenient and caused 200 euro douane on a 500 euro lens.
So if you buy second hand, talk to the seller first and drop the right hints if buying outside you country/zone to avoid that sort of surprise.

Oh yes, just bought a d800 s/h it was really like new!
mervyntattoo 8 655 Wales
17 Jul 2013 10:07AM
I've always bought S/H from shops, never had a problem.
kodachrome 6 700
17 Jul 2013 11:03AM
Look at the LCE [London Camera Exchange] web site, its a dedicated site for all things second hand in the Photographic world

I bought several Konica Minolta lenses from them and got a 3 Month warrenty with a sale or return clause as well. They were all in perfect condition. Each item advertised will carry a star rating for condition.

Hope this helps.
Tim_Clark 4 1 United Kingdom
18 Jul 2013 11:50AM
Thanks for all the comments. It's good to hear that many photographers have successfully bought lenses second hand.
I have put together a few pointers of what to look for when buying used lenses, based on your comments and a few of my own ideas:

Buying used camera lenses can be rather daunting. Surprisingly, many photographers have said that they are happy to build their suite of lenses with second-hand stock. It is possible to by lenses in mint condition for a good discount. A lens will last a long time if it has been well looked after, and there can be little difference between a mint used lens and a brand new one.

Firstly, if you are spending any serious amount of money, you must do your research on the seller before making payment – Are they an established seller and is there a returns policy?

It is always best to see the lens for yourself. There are a number of important checks that will help to ensure that you don’t waste your money. There are some checks that should be made to the lens:

Check that there are no marks on the glass. Inspect the glass by turning it to the light and check for any imperfections.

Check the focussing in manual and automatic. Check that the focusing ring is smooth but not loose.

Check that the aperture stops down correctly.

Check aperture blades for dirt or excessive oil

Avoid buying a lens that has not been used for a long time. There may be problems with the shutters freezing up.

Examine the lens for fungus.

It is a good idea to take a laptop with you so you can check images at 100% for imperfections caused by the lens. Also take a camera body to test the lens on.

Ask questions such as ‘how much has the lens been used?’, ‘has it ever been dropped?’, ‘how has it been stored?’

Overall, if you are careful with your purchase, you can reduce the risk and it can be an excellent way to expand your lens collection. Photographers feel differently about buying used lenses and you will need to make your own mind up!

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.